Let me try to help you to get started. I really admire your enthusiasm and ambition and commitment to your family as well as to your spouse to be. Fortunately, you have almost a year until your wedding time and are committed to doing a great job. The potentially not so good news is that your budget is limited and will require a team volunteer effort and a lot of flexibility and creativity to be successful. There will be errors... and you need to have a sense of humor about them... consider the errors to be part of the adventure not something to become upset about and you'll get there.
There are a few first steps that I'd like you to complete in the next few days so that you can have an initial picture of everything that you would like to have and the amount of work that you will need to do to accomplish your goals. You are unusually committed to your guests (offering to pay all of their expenses). To "pull this off" you will need to have a real team effort and to work with your guests to help make this event a success.
The first thing I would like you to do is to write down in order of importance from most to least importance all of the objectives which you mentioned: nice venue, good food, music, photos, video, flowers, cake, have 60 guests, have 6 guests from out of state all expense paid, etc, etc.
I am going to assume that your most important desire is to have all 60 people there (including the 5 or 6 from out of town..) with you paying their expenses. (Covering the out of town travel is unusually generous, by the way). Conventionally speaking this would cost from $3,000 to $6,000 alone. You need to reduce this as much as possible... so please think about ways in which you can minimize this expense. You cannot assume the airlines will significantly reduce the air fares for you. Your local friends and relatives might be able to help out though, by taking care of all ground expenses. Think about who could pick them up at the airport, who could they stay with, etc. Also, who on your local team could take over and be in charge of all of the out of town guests scheduling, etc. I will for right now assume that 6 air fares will cost about $3,000.00. (I'll next assume that local people will cover all other ground expenses... e.g., they stay with someone, someone transports them, they eat meals at a local guess home, etc.). Put this plan together first.
Assuming that you can do the air fares, etc. for about $3,000, but you need to get a realistic number today. That gives you $5,000 left for everything else.
You need a place for your wedding and an officiant. If you regularly attend a place of worship your religious leader might be the most economical person to officiate. Likewise, having the wedding and reception at your place of worship might be economical. Alternatively, I would recommend looking towards a public park as the venue. Find the price of the venue and the officiant. I'll assume you can hire an officiant and rent a facility at your place of worship or a park for $1,000. Again, you need to get realistic numbers this week. Thus, you have about $4,000.
I personally prioritize having great photos as being very important. I would have a professional photographer. I'll assume that you can find someone competent through the photography department at a local college or through a photography club. I'll assume you are fortunate, and find such a person for $1,000 complete... which would, I believe be a low number. That leaves about $3,000 left. You want video. Again, assume another $1,000. Again, make some calls and check this out. Now you have $2,000 left.
You will, most likely want a nice dress for your wedding and your fiance will also want some nice clothing. (I'll assume other members of the wedding party will supply their own clothing). This would leave you with the entire budget spent, overspent a bit, or with minimal dollars left.
You will need to team up with selected friends and ask them to prepare all food, music, etc. You'll need to work with your team to make your own floral (or artificial flower) decorations. If your venue does not have tables and chairs you'll need to think about how you can borrow them. You need to think about a friend who would enjoy being your project manager (and who would do it well).
Being realistic, everything will not go off as clockwork. There will be some mistakes. As long as you can have a sense of humor about the mistakes and imperfections which will occur I think you can do something very meaningful that will be fun.
So, start today by making your prioritized list (which may be different from mine). Fill in key prices and think about what friends and relatives can and will do to make this a team effort.
Moving away from the financial... you need to get to a wedding or two. Please talk with our officiant about ideas as to finding a wedding or two which you can observe over the next few weeks.
Write back as you progress (and run into hurdles) so that we can be of help to you. Feel free to contact me as well.Ron
Ronald G. Shapiro, Ph. D.Education By Entertainment